My favourite thing to do when I go out for a meal and fall in love with a dish is to try and replicate it at home. I get a weird sense of satisfaction from guessing the individual ingredients, figuring out the method and then successfully reproducing a dish.
These walnuts were on the menu the first time Simon and I went to Kumo Izakaya in Brunswick East. They was deliciously addictive, with a great balance of sweet and salty that matched perfectly with a beer and left you begging for more. I have been whipping them up ever since and no one can get enough of these ugly bad boys (“amaze-balls” apparently).
Chilli Seaweed Walnuts
1 cup walnuts
1/3 cup caster sugar
2 tablespoons dried seaweed
1 teaspoon Ichimi Togarashi (Japanese Chilli Pepper)
Small pinch of salt
1 tablespoon soy sauce
The dried seaweed you need to look for is the kind that is shredded and looks like high quality tea leaves, you won’t be able to use nori sheets to make this dish. I use the Morning Smile Brand (sorry, I couldn’t find a web link).
Place the dried seaweed in a mortar and pestle and pound it to a powder, it should resemble the contents of tea bag. Add in the Japanese chilli pepper and a small pinch of salt.
Place a fry pan over a medium to high flame and combine the sugar and walnuts. Basically you are heating the sugar to the point of crystalisation, at which point you want it to coat your walnuts evenly. To do this you need to stir the mix constantly. After about 5 minutes you will notice the sugar starting to brown, but be careful not to let it burn. As the sugar browns, turn the heat down to medium and keep stirring.
When the sugar is almost totally melted sprinkle the seaweed and chilli mixture over the top and continue to stir to coat evenly. Then add the tablespoon of soy sauce to the mix. This should bubble a little as you add it to the pan and it will help with ensuring the sugar coats the nuts evenly.
Once all the ingredients are combined and the nuts well coated tip the contents out on to a tray lined with baking paper and space evenly to allow to cool. Be sure to eat a few while they are still warm. So good!
Once the nuts have cooled transfer them to an airtight container. Properly stored they should keep for up to 10 days, if you can resist!